Budnarine Behari, a Rikers Island captain who oversaw the April 2012 hogtying and beating of a mentally ill inmate who had complained about not receiving a baloney sandwich, was fired this week along with five other officers at the prison. Great. But before he was dismissed, Behari had the opportunity to administer equally sadistic attacks on at least two other prisoners. What the hell took so long?
New York City Correction Department Commissioner Joseph Ponte, who took office in April 2014, is touting the dismissal of Behari and officers Geronimo Almanzar, Vincent Siederman, Paul Bunton, Ramon Cabrera, and Raul Marquez as a sign that the violence- and corruption-plagued institution is moving toward "[earning] back the faith and trust of the community we serve."
That it took nearly three years to make sure that inmates were safe from the men who tied Robert Hinton's arms and legs behind his back and beat him until his nose was broken, vertebra fractured, and face unrecognizably swollen is a brutally clear indication of how much work the DOC has in front of it if it truly intends to restore that faith. Captain Behari wasn't arrested or charged with a crime, don't forget; he was simply removed from his post.
Below, a publicly released still from security footage showing Hinton being hogtied.
Eight months after the Hinton beating and 25 months before he was fired, Behari oversaw equally violent assaults on Tamel Dixon and Andre Lane, a bipolar and schizophrenic inmate who splashed officers with either water or urine. Witness said that officers handcuffed Lane to a stretcher, wheeled him to an area with no security cameras, and beat him until the walls were stained with his blood, the New York Times reported last year:
Born to a mother who was a crack addict, he spent most of his time growing up in foster homes and had a lengthy history of mental health problems, with diagnoses for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.
"They punched me in the face and they kept punching me and punching me and punching me," Mr. Lane recalled in an interview at Elmira Correctional Facility, where he recently completed a two-year sentence for a credit card theft conviction.
"This one much worse and longer," the email from the clinician said. "Staff members were visibly upset and some said they were sick to their stomachs."
When staff members pleaded with them to stop, Captain Behari asked how they would feel if they had been splashed with urine, witnesses said.
Behari reportedly ran the Dixon-Lane beatings alongside Rod Marcel, another Rikers captain. Both captains were temporarily placed on modified duty in the following months, but neither faced criminal or administrative charges. Two years later, it appears that Marcel still has his job.
[Image via AP]